I wrote this post after I did a number of things.
This post is part of my work, which I do after my self-care practices.
In order to do my work well, I must take exquisite care of myself. That includes caring for my creative spirit. So, along side using a Neti pot for my sinuses, drinking lemon water in the morning, and a regular yoga practice that sustains my physical and mental well-being, I do many things that I consider Care for My Creative.
In order to tap my interior well and make sense of the outer world through creative expression, in order for my work to be accessible and relate-able to others, I cultivate my daily practice, every single day. I don't skip it.
Here is how it goes for me:
I take care of my spiritual needs first. I pray and meditate. I do not compromise on this.
I read something brief in one of my mentor texts. Today, it was from Consolation by David Whyte on page 27. The page number is something that usually comes to me during meditation. This practice of Lectio Divina is nourishing and always surprising because what seems like a random number arriving in my mind proves to bear a message that I needed to hear. Today was writing on being besieged.
“Creating a state of aloneness in the besieged everyday may be one of the bravest things individual men and women can do for themselves."
After meditation, reading, and prayer, I get moving. I would like to say that I do yoga alone and early, but I don't. I do a few hip rolls. I stretch. Since I go to class 5 days a week, I save that till later. I stand outside to greet my oak tree and the sky and the day while the tea water boils. I water the plants in the house while the tea brews. In summer, I water outside while the tea brews. Then I go to my journal. Some days I paint for a few minutes, just to get color on the page because I love writing on color. It comforts me and feeds something inside me, which has no name, maybe visual appetite?
I write for the amount of time I have, 30-45 minutes. Then, depending on my family and my workday, I am at this point ready to join the human race. This is my minimum of self-care. I also:
I get outside every day.
Take a solid walk at least three times a week.
I talk to friends a few times a week.
I write at least one letter a week.
And I do my work. This is self-care too. I admonish myself if I find myself standing in a puddle of rationalization about why I am not doing my work. I don't have time for that. Even though it happens, what is the point?
I could tell you all sorts of things that count as self-care. But you might say, "Oh I cannot afford that. I have 5 kids. There is no way I can write for 45 minutes." And I will say I have done this practice all through raising my kids. I did not recognize the value of it while I was doing it, and I did not always meditate, but I have grown this daily early self-care from necessity and it does not cost anything.
In order to care for others, I have to care for myself first. This makes sense, doesn’t it?
Lastly, there is a small revolution of self-care that came to me last year.
I worry profusely even with all that praying, I worry.
My doctor suggested I work with a sleep therapist on the worry thing. And that therapist told me that all the work I could do with him would help, but nothing more than adding hours to my sleep at night. So, I go to bed at 9 PM. I wake up at 5:45 AM. This keeps me sane and lets all that self-care land within me and get right to work healing and helping me. I am not running on a deficit.
I hear you gasping. What a completely dull person I am, how unexciting a life I have, going to bed so early. When will I watch TV?
I don’t. I haven’t. On weekends, for a treat, I watch a movie on Netflix or Hulu. I am rested in a way that I never was all during my kids growing up. I napped with them, and then bitterly missed that break once they grew out of it. I burned my candle on both ends, doing all sorts of stuff until the wee hours because I could not figure out when else to do those things, especially when being alone late at night was so very delicious.
I will tell you this. I find that deliciousness at 3 PM now. I have the juice to be alive and aware and awake and delighted all day long. I don't drink coffee, (I know, I am getting duller by the sentence) but it keeps my energy more even to drink herb tea and get off the caffeine roller coaster. Like a movie, I have coffee for a treat, and love it when I do. It is an amusement ride, but not a daily habit. In order to be effective and responsive and digest the shit-ton of news that is streaming through our world right now and be at least one bit responsive in a way that might help or support others, then I have to get enough sleep.
You have it in your hands now.
Sleep is free.
Add 30 minutes to your night until you can wake up without an alarm and feel rested.
Get some for yourself and see what happens.
Let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear.